With a growing number of fatalities in recent days in Kashmir and Jammu, Amnesty International today (3 August) called on the security forces in the two Indian states to show restraint when using live ammunition.
At least 14 protesters have been killed in shootings by security forces during protests in Kashmir over the last four days. More than 150 people have been injured, including 22 security personnel. These are some of the most violent clashes between protesters and security forces in recent years in the restive Kashmir valley.
“Some of the recent demonstrations have turned violent” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific Director, “But the security forces should still respect and protect the right to life at all times. The number and circumstances of fatal shootings suggest that this has not always been the case.”
Security forces are encouraged by Amnesty to use firearms only where unavoidable to protect life, and to the minimum extent required. This is in compliance with their own manual and international law and standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
From Friday 30 July to Sunday 1 August, nine protestors were killed by gunfire from the Jammu and Kashmir state police and the Central Reserve Police Force during demonstrations. Five more deaths were reported yesterday, including one demonstrator who succumbed to gunshot injuries sustained on Saturday.
Violence by protestors in recent demonstrations has included attacks on a train station and three police stations. Four people died in an explosion when a police station in Khrew, near Srinagar, was set on fire by protestors on Sunday.
The latest round of demonstrations began in late May over reported extrajudicial executions of three young men at Machil in Baramulla district. Protests increased after the killing of 17-year old Tufail Mattoo by police in Srinagar on 11 June. They have intensified over repeated cycles of protests and further killings by security forces – 17 protestors were killed between 11 June and 19 July. Over 300 people, including 45 security force personnel, have been injured in the demonstrations to date.
Amnesty International says that the right to freedom of assembly protects only peaceful assembly and that protestors who engage in human rights abuses must be held accountable for their actions. They add that similarly, according to international law, all incidents of police shootings should be investigated promptly, independently, impartially and thoroughly.
Amnesty insists that members of security forces suspected of violating human rights, irrespective of rank, should be prosecuted in proceedings that meet international standards of fairness. Survivors and families of victims should be provided with reparations.